This was one of my mother's staple dishes when I was growing up. In my reinvention, I've added a bit more spice and detail and some crunchy noodles for a textural contrast.
3 tbsp olive oil
500g beef mince
2 pinches of Chinese five-spice
2 pinches of chilli powder (optional)
1 large brown onion, sliced Chinese-style (thinly sliced from root to top)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g (about 15cm long) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 long green chillies, thinly sliced
⅓ wombok cabbage, thinly sliced
250ml hot water
125ml oyster sauce
4 tbsp tamari sauce or light soy sauce
3 tsp sesame oil
150g frozen peas
1 handful of green beans, thinly sliced
5 spring onions, sliced on an angle
160g vermicelli, reconstituted in boiling water for 10 minutes (chopped into 5cm lengths with scissors)
100g bean sprouts
Sunflower or rice bran oil, for deep-frying (it needs to be about 6cm deep)
50g vermicelli noodles, uncooked, to garnish (optional)
1. If garnishing with vermicelli noodles, heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan to 180C (when a cube of bread dropped in the oil turns golden brown in 15 seconds), carefully add the noodles and fry for 20 seconds. Remove and drain on paper towel.
2. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok or large saucepan over very high heat, add the beef and fry, stirring constantly for three to five minutes until browned. Mix in the five-spice and chilli powder and tip out into a bowl.
3. Pour a splash more oil into the same pan and add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, and stir-fry over high heat for a minute until fragrant.
4. Stir in the cabbage and half the hot water, then add the oyster sauce, tamari sauce and sesame oil and cook for eight minutes until the cabbage is just softened. Add the peas, beans and spring onion and stir in the drained vermicelli, bean sprouts and the cooked beef. Add a splash more water and soy sauce if necessary.
5. Garnish the chow mein with the crispy noodles and serve.
Recipe from Everyday by Karen Martini, published by Plum; RRP $39.99.